AHA! A House for Arts



Learn about the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College. Go behind the scenes of a contemporary ballet company to learn about the Chamber Dance Project. Teens hit the streets in order to capture the spirit of their communities with the “Through My Lens: Art is Life" workshop. Physicians team up with actors and set designers to create a theatre piece that explores the brain

AIRED: August 24, 2017 | 0:26:47


summer on the world stage. >> We really see the Fisher Center as a laboratory,

and we see part of our mission as having an impact on the culture globally, and we do that through

the new works that we present and produce. >> Get an inside look at an edgy ballet company.

>> I like to work with the same group of dancers and musicians so that we get a real joie de vivre,

and a true, deep collaboration. >> Telling stories through photography. >> They're basically taking

a bunch of group of kids from the inner city and giving them high-tech phones to take pictures

of their community and show it in this gallery. >> Theater and medicine join forces.

>> I wonder what's going on in Eric's brain. What happens in the brain of a neurosurgeon

during an operation? >> It's all ahead on this episode of "AHA!" >> Funding for "AHA!"

has been provided by your contribution and by contributions to the WMHT Venture Fund.

Contributors include...

>> At M&T Bank, we understand that the vitality of our communities is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community. M&T Bank is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same. ♪♪

>> Hi, I'm Katie G., and this is "AHA!" A House for Arts, a place for all things creative.

The Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College represents the college's

commitment to the performing arts as a cultural and educational necessity.

The center's adventurous programs and world-class facilities provide an outstanding

environment in which to create, perform, learn and experience. ♪♪

>> Bard SummerScape has its roots in the Bard Music Festival, which was established in 1990,

and that was really the vision of Bard College president and conductor Leon Botstein. He founded the festival

to present classical music in an innovative new way and to really present a unique summer festival

that works at the intersection of scholarship and performance. From the Bard Music Festival grew this incredible facility

that we have here today, the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts at Bard College,

which opened in 2003. The center is designed by the architect Frank Gehry, and alongside the opening

of the center in 2003, Bard SummerScape was founded to build upon the Bard Music Festival.

So we're in our 15th season this summer, presenting work across all disciplines, so classical music,

dance, theater, opera, cabaret, spoken word, interdisciplinary forms of performance and lots and lots of live music

across all genres from jazz to pop and rock. The SummerScape Festival opens every season

with a major dance project, then we'll do a two-week run of a significant theatrical production,

and that leads us to the SummerScape Opera, which is sort of the crown in the jewel of SummerScape,

and that's always an incredible production. People travel from around the world to see it,

and it's something that we're known for internationally. ♪♪ >> The opera is written

in the Czech language, the great Czech composer Dvorák. [ Speaks indistinctly ] ♪♪

[ Singing in Czech ] The Czech language, it has its set of challenges for sure.

I've been joking that for every one vowel, there are 16 consonants. Many words begin

with a series of consonants. You have X, R, J, E, you finally get to the E after you've said...

[ Pronounces consonants ] So it's very difficult, but we have a wonderful, wonderful Czech pronunciation

specialist who is here with us, and she is on us with every syllable, and is making sure

that we are delivering the text in an intelligible way to someone, a native Czech speaker.

>> The language, I think, is really such an essential part of the whole production because it's a language

that's not very common, and it's certainly foreign to the entire cast, and it's very difficult

to sing words that you don't understand. So the first focus, of course, is to actually

have it sound Czech because that's a very important part of the overall sound. And then the second part

is to actually make sure that people know, number one, what they are saying, and also to give them a sense

of what others around them are saying, just so that they have idea of what they're responding to,

and so that there's an emotional texture to what is being sung in addition to just the pure musical aspect of it.

>> I actually love singing the Czech language. The vowels are very Italianate and familiar

to any trained singer, and once you work through the extremely tricky consonant combinations,

once those are feeling natural and in your body, then it's actually a beautiful language to sing.

I'm very excited to have the opportunity to show a new audience a very rarely performed opera,

and I think the work we are doing on it I hope will present it in the best possible light

and maybe breathe some life into it here in the States. >> One of the things that the Bard Music Festival

is known for is the book that it publishes every year, which comes out from Princeton University Press.

And so not only do we have world-class performances here during the Bard Music Festival, we also make

a lasting contribution to music scholarship through the publication of this book. Over the eight-week

SummerScape Festival, we see about 25,000 audience members come from all over the world.

SummerScape is really a destination festival because we do unique programs, often world premieres

or American premieres of new works or new productions of rediscovered operas, new dance commissions,

new theater productions, and that draws audiences from all over the world as well as from our local

community and from the greater New York metro area. And that leads us to the Spiegeltent,

which is open throughout the festival not only as an incredible venue for performance,

but also as a way to make a really beautiful afternoon or evening of coming to SummerScape,

dining in the Spiegeltent before or after a performance. There's a late-night dancing program called After Hours,

and it's very convivial. It's sort of the SummerScape Festival's oasis. So once the curtain

has come down and if you'd like to meet some of the artists or spend time with your friends discussing

the work you've just seen, the Spiegeltent is the perfect place to do that, and our audiences love it.

One of the things that's great about our location here is that artists love to spend time in the Hudson Valley.

So we really see the Fisher Center as a laboratory, and we see part of our mission

as having an impact on the culture globally, and we do that through the new works

that we present and produce. So when someone is coming to see a world premiere at SummerScape, they're seeing the culmination

of the efforts of hundreds of artists and technicians who have been working tirelessly here in residence

over many weeks to create something new or to rediscover something from

the past of musical history, or to breathe new life into a theatrical work that perhaps hasn't been given

the proper circumstances to be able to be appreciated. That's really at the core of what we do here.

>> Chamber Dance Project is a contemporary ballet company that calls Washington, D.C., home.

A live string quartet accompanies dancers onstage, resulting in an unconventional experience for performers

and audiences alike. ♪♪ >> With Chamber Dance Project, our vision is to expand

the audience's engagement in the process, as well as to collaborate with very high-end artists

and create works of contemporary resonance. >> Turn, turn, turn. Excellent.

One. >> We start every morning with company class, and this is where they get

their bodies ready for the day, which is fairly arduous. It's five, six hours of rehearsal.

>> [ Speaks indistinctly ]

♪♪ >> They went around. >> Yeah. >> We're missing.

Pushing around and keep turning and you keep turning and you keep turning. Transfer

your weight to the front leg. Wait. >> "Look at me. Look at me."

And she continuously rejects you, and you continuously, like a puppy, follow her. ♪♪

>> We've spent most of this year preparing for our second big season in D.C. I met Dianne last year,

and she described the project, and it sounded really different from anything that I'd ever done before,

which was to have six dancers and four musicians, all equal partners in this chamber,

small-scale, intimate kind of setting with the musicians onstage. ♪♪

>> I like to work with the same group of dancers and musicians so that we get a real joie de vivre

and a true deep collaboration. We don't just bring the musicians in at the end and put them in the pit.

They're onstage with us, and they are a big part of what we do. >> The fact of having

the live music is pretty awesome. Share the energy with the musicians

and just make a bond that is special and different. ♪♪ >> Just to see these beautiful

dancers as we play is really, really rewarding. ♪♪

♪♪ >> I'm extremely grateful to Washington, D.C. I've found it an extremely open

and collaborative town, and so now it's really my home, and it's my artistic home, too. [ Applause ]

What we're doing is what I call SI, or Structured Improv. And the corollary for the musicians

is I hand them score in parts for a piece they've never played together. So they are sight reading.

The dancers don't know what the heck is going to come out of the quartet. And they're doing it together.

>> Everybody gets, like, nervous about it because we don't know what we're doing. They just put new music for

the musicians, and we just go and try to create something with all of us together,

which could be very dangerous if you're, you know, if you're moving in a different direction. You don't know what you're

doing. You can hurt somebody, but it's been... >> We collide.

>> We collide, yeah. It's been great to find out how people actually respond to you,

to your movement, and around you, you know, aware with each other. >> We're very used

to have someone in front of us telling us what to do, but at this moment, we have the creative process

onstage with the public staring. So, like, you have no choice. You just have to, like,

make it happen and make it work. >> It feels very awkward onstage, but audience loves it. >> Yeah.

>> So that's what we're going to do at every show. >> I like to think they're really on the edge,

and the audience will experience that, and it is shockingly profound and fun.

[ Cheers and applause ]

It's really different from anything you've seen or heard before. >> Huh?

Now! [ Cheers and applause ] ♪♪ >> To have a certain visceral

resonance, to have a power that lingers beyond the curtain. I want

that power to linger in them. ♪♪

[ Applause ]


>> I think the purpose is to give them something away from what the daily routine is, so they should just take away

a piece of art in their hearts. Like, we just want to give them a little motivation for something else

and just make them fly and dream. [ Cheers and applause ]

>> The "Through My Lens: Art Is Life" workshop provided 25 Miami, Florida, teens with the opportunity

to make a statement via photography. Under the mentorship of award-winning photojournalists,

the teens took to the streets in order to capture the spirit of their communities. ♪♪

>> Play to Win came to us and invited us to be part of their opportunity to take the lens and make it

a reality for the students, giving students an opportunity to see what it means to take pictures

and capture life inside their community. >> They're basically taking a bunch, a group

of kids from the inner city, and giving them high-tech phones to take pictures of their community

and show it in this gallery. >> We thought it was a very good tie-in to bring the students from over town

and get them involved in a photography project, and then showcase their work here at Art Basel.

>> C.W. Griffin, he came and he is, like, one of the world's, like, best photographers, and he brought

a few of his colleagues with him, and they just showed us the basics of photography. >> It's something that

I've participated in for years. I've always enjoyed it. I always remember that it was people

that took interest in me when I was a youngster to mold me into where I am now, and so passing that on

is actually a privilege. >> I did things I didn't know I could do, like not being afraid

to open up to people. When I open up to you, I make you feel comfortable enough

for me to take your picture. I didn't know that. I would just come up to you and just take your picture.

It doesn't work like that. So that's something I learned. >> That when you take a picture, it can tell many stories

and many things, and it depends how you see it in your eyes and how the whole world see it.

But you have to take, like, a pretty good picture to express how you think about that picture.

We can, like, share the photos we took, and we can learn from it to see how the world, like, change,

and we can interact with it. >> I have this one picture, and it's these two guys. They play chess out here

every day. And I never knew them, but they stay out here from 6:00 in the morning,

like, and they won't leave until 6:00 at night. Their time and, like, what they do to

just really ease their mind of stress and everything. And that was pretty uplifting for me.

I took a great picture of them. I submitted 10 photographs, but it took me at least a good 150

to get those good 10. >> I just want to move forward and proceed in that direction because, like, as I was taking

pictures, I was like, "Hmm, this could be for me." Because, like, it's not only you just taking a picture,

like I said before, it's telling a story. >> The actual final images, we had no idea, you know,

what the talent level was. >> I was... really was blown away. It was a lot more

than I was expecting. I just think the kids really captured the essence of their own community,

and they each picked and focused on something else that was important to them. And I think that their work

is just tremendous. >> The most rewarding experience was how it can be so inspiring to people.

It just... It touched me, the pictures they had. >> There's a lot of students in my neighborhood and my school

that don't know things, activities that you get yourself into can take you many places that you don't even know

that you could ever go to, and open the doors for many kids that do not know that these programs

are out here to help you. >> After all, kids are the future, and we have to,

like, be responsible and, like, take action and help the community. >> I would like to make sure

that they continue, continue to grow and continue to have people around that will sort of see

to their success. >> One thing that photography does, it gives you the opportunity

to travel, you know, to different countries. That's one thing I want to do is,

you know, see more than Miami. So, you know, photography, I want to pursue that and go out, take more pictures,

bring it back, and, you know, let, you know, people that haven't traveled to see what is going on outside the world.

>> The good thing about using camera phones is because it's in their hand. It's something that most

teenagers, most children, most adults use every day, so now it's become like their right hand and their left hand.

Well, if I can get them to make the connection between life and their dreams and their successes,

it's just as simple as being in their right hand and their left hand. It makes all the difference.

>> Finally, we don't often think of art and medicine intersecting, but that's exactly what happened

in St. Louis, Missouri, where physicians at the Washington University Medical School

have teamed up with actors and set designers to create a theater piece that explores the workings

of the brain. ♪♪ >> We've never done this before. We haven't been able to identify

where anyone else has done it, either, so we think we're onto something. [ Beep ]

>> You know, I wonder what's going on in Eric's brain. What happens in the brain of a neurosurgeon

during an operation? Let's see. >> Science definitely doesn't have to be boring.

And as complicated and as sophisticated as it is, the overwhelming majority of us are not scientists.

And so how can we and how could we end up interpreting what these world-class

physician scientists do each day in a way that all of us would understand? Putting another building

right in the heart of it. >> For Rich Liekweg, formerly the head of Barnes-Jewish Hospital,

the answer was right around the corner in the operating room, where terms like performance

and theater are part of the culture of surgery. But little could prepare physicians

Albert Kim and Eric Leuthardt to write and star in a theatrical production following a young couple

through life's twists and turns, beginning with their first date. >> You must be Sarah. >> I am.

Brad? >> Yes, yes. I'm Brad. [ Chuckles ] >> We found each other!

>> Whew! >> [ Chuckles ] >> When we were with the actors, we all had this feeling like,

"We never expected to be with you guys." And the actors were like, "Well, we never expected to be

acting with neurosurgeons." And so... >> I'm probably more comfortable doing a surgery

than being onstage. >> No question. >> And so we had to learn really quick

how to be comfortable onstage, and that was quite foreign. >> Before taking the stage, Kim and Leuthardt regularly

shared their work as part of their faculty role at the teaching hospital for Washington University School

of Medicine. >> Machines are in here, the computer in here, and that all connects to your head,

and it open and closes the hand of a paralyzed patient. >> Their quests to understand just how our brains operate

has put them on the leading edge of medical discoveries while capturing enough public interest that several years ago

they began an annual lecture series called "Brain Works." >> And from that came the concept of thinking

about a TED Talk type of concept and how could we do something that's even different from that. And a couple of creative folks,

you know, on our collective team got together with the physicians and said, "What do you think about doing

a play that's interactive?" That would be more entertaining, but at the same time really teaching and talking to folks

about what goes on with the brain. >> In medical education, elements of the theater

have become the norm. Students here already train with patient actors to improve their bedside manner,

and it's one of a few medical campuses to host a student-run musical. But until now, no one has gone

beyond campus and into the community. >> There's something very intimate about theater,

and that was one of the reasons Dr. Leuthardt and I wanted to bring this sort of knowledge in that setting.

There's something very intimate, very engaging, very personal about having a theater-level type of production

for presenting this kind of information. >> And interestingly, it also links up to our neuroscience.

We are built to be social creatures, and I think once you make, put something into a context

where you can be part of that conversation, you receive the information so much more deeply.

So for instance, it's the difference why sometimes you fall asleep at a lecture, but if people are gossiping

about something, you're interested and will listen. The real Brad, actually, who is here...

Brad, could you stand for a moment? [ Applause ] >> Brad Eastman is a brain-tumor

survivor, and in real life, Dr. Leuthardt's patient. >> To want to base a play on my life

and my story is pretty humbling. Probably the most difficult part was the wave of emotions associated with all the events,

starting from meeting Sarah and going all the way through current day. But tying the science to

the emotions and the events in my life was very interesting. I learned a lot.

>> Brad, he was an inspiring patient, you know? Again, talking not so much the character, but the person.

He wouldn't let his disease, you know, bring him down. And then to, you know, go on and run a marathon

a year after the surgery, these are things that, you know, inspire me. >> It's been two years

since Brad's surgery. He's one of 650 brain- and spine-tumor patients treated each year

at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. >> "Brain Works" really reflects the entire mission of what we do

at this medical center every day. We're celebrating our discovery, what our scientists

are doing to treat disease, but we're also celebrating the humanity within which we deliver the care.

>> How did the surgery go? >> It went just great. It went great, Brad. >> Awesome.

>> It's been a fascinating experiment so far, taking the science and merging it with art and entertainment.

>> That is that unique human capacity. >> They don't have the time to be on the road

going to Broadway, but we know we've got a number of physicians that would love another way

to share with the larger public what's going on, what's exciting about their life's passion. ♪♪

>> And that wraps it up for this edition of "AHA!" For more arts and culture, visit WMHT.org/AHA,

where you'll find features about our creative world in our backyards and across the country.

Until next time, I'm Katie G. Thanks for watching. ♪♪

Funding for "AHA!" has been provided by your contribution and by contributions

to the WMHT Venture Fund. Contributors include...

>> At M&T Bank, we understand that the vitality of our communities is crucial to our continued success.

That's why we take an active role in our community. M&T Bank is pleased to support WMHT programming

that highlights the arts, and we invite you to do the same.


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